FWC: Leave sea turtle hatchlings alone and they will make it to sea just fine
Help hatchlings home by leaving them alone. That’s what beachgoers should remember if they encounter sea turtle hatchlings emerging from nests and clambering toward the water.
From now through the end of October, sea turtle hatchlings are breaking out of their eggs, digging out of nests and making their way across beaches to begin their lives in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. They usually emerge from their nests at night.
“Sea turtle hatchlings are small and appear helpless, so people may make the mistake of thinking they need assistance getting to the water. But you can help hatchlings home by leaving them alone,” said Robbin Trindell, who heads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sea turtle management program.
“Sea turtle hatchlings are biologically programmed to look for the brightest horizon and walk toward the water,” said Trindell. “Any interference or disturbance by people, such as getting too close or taking flash photos, increases the chances the hatchlings will get confused, go in the wrong direction and not reach the ocean quickly. That makes them vulnerable to dehydration, exhaustion and predators. Remember, you need a special permit from the FWC to interact with sea turtle hatchlings. Beachgoers should never handle or interact with hatchlings on their own.”